STATUS: Civil union, anti-marriage law, amendment permitting only the state legislature to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples
TAKE ACTION: On January 24, 2013, legislators in Hawaii introduced identical bills in the House and Senate that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.
In February 2013, the freedom to marry was faced with a procedural hurdle when the HI legislature reached the deadline for scheduling hearings for bills without scheduling the marriage bill. The most likely outcome now is that the marriage bill will be placed on hold for the remainder of 2013, but as the bills remain "alive" through 2014, state advocates, including Hawaii United for Marriage, are now working to encourage supportive legislators to take affirmative steps to move marriage forward.
Make a donation to Freedom to Marry’s Win More States Fund today. Every single penny donated to the Win More States Fund will go directly into the work of winning in Hawaii and other battleground states.
HISTORY: In May 1993, a state supreme court responded seriously to an ad hoc marriage lawsuit for the first time ever. Without the backing of any organized local or national LGBT group, three same-sex couples sued Hawaii for marriage licenses. In Baehr v. Lewin (later Baehr v. Miike), the Hawaii Supreme Court suggested the potential validity of the lawsuit, arguing that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples might be sex discrimination. The Hawaii Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court for a new hearing. Soon thereafter, the Hawaii legislature passed the Reciprocal Beneficiaries statute, which made it easier for unmarried friends, partners, or family members to care for each other.
The 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision was preliminary and had not yet granted marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state.
In response to Baehr, anti-gay forces introduced the so-called Defense of Marriage Act into state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. The proposal, which called for marriage to be restricted to only different-sex couples, was approved at the federal level, prohibiting federal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples.
In 1998, anti-gay forces succeeded in amending the Hawaii Constitution so as to prevent the courts from ending the exclusion of same-sex couples; under the Amendment, only the legislature can now cure that discrimination, notwithstanding the Equal Protection Clause.
On February 23, 2011, Gov. Abercrombie signed a civil union bill that provides some protections to same-sex couples and their families, but these protections are no substitute for the full measure of respect, clarity, security, and responsibilities of the freedom to marry. . The first civil unions occurred on January 1, 2012. Marriage advocates in the state are now working toward a full freedom to marry bill for Hawaii.
POLLING DATA: 55% of Hawaii residents say they think marriage between same-sex couples should be legal, with just 37% opposed. (Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, January 2013)
GROUPS ACTIVELY WORKING ON MARRIAGE:
- Hawaii United for Marriage is a broad coalition of people, organizations, and groups working to secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Hawaii. Freedom to Marry is proud to be a leading member of the coalition.
- Equality Hawaii is the central statewide organization dedicated to securing equal marriage rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their families in Hawaii.
- ACLU of Hawaii works to protect the rights and liberties of all Hawaii residents through lobbying, litigation and education.
- Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
- Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES: According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 3,239 same-sex couples are living in Hawaii, representing 7.1 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Blog Posts Related to Hawaii
Twenty years ago, Justice Steven Levinson and the Hawaii Supreme Court made history. They became the first appellate court in global history to find that a state constitution presumptively prohibited the exclusion of same-sex couples from access to marriage. As the anniversary of the ruling he authored approaches, Justice Steven Levinson reflects on the ruling and looks ahead to the future of the freedom to marry.
The legislative campaigns to win marriage for same-sex couples surged on this week in Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, and Rhode Island with exciting new updates emerging from each state, including new endorsements, new polls,
Today, Freedom to Marry announced a 2013 drive to raise and invest $2 million through the Win More States Fund, with an initial goal of passing marriage bills in several states across the country - Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
Resources Related to Hawaii
A media primer on the LGBT issues landscape for the coming year released by the Human Rights Campaign.
The report shows that a civil union law in Hawaii would boost the economy through both increased spending and jobs, while also increasing the state budget, along with other positive economic impacts.
Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Hawaii.